Light One Candle For Trans Day

November 19, 2019

By Amy Sarah Clark

A joint effort between Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, the city’s LGBTQ synagogue, and Keshet, which advocates for LGBTQ equality in Jewish communities, is offering people the chance to combine an ancient Jewish tradition of remembrance with the current practice of memorializing via Facebook.

To mark the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, which honors transgender people who were killed in hate crimes and took place on Wednesday, the pair created a graphic that could be printed out and put on the glass that holds a standard yahrtzeit candle. The organizations urged people to post a photo of the lit candle on social media, ideally as one’s profile picture for the day.

The sticker sports a Star of David in the transgender flag colors of pastel blue and pink with the words “Trans Day of Remembrance” and the date in both Hebrew and English.

“The yahrtzeit candle is something we do in our tradition — it’s a powerful image,” Rabbi Mike Moskowitz, of CBST, told The Jewish Week.

“In the Jewish tradition remembering is a call to action. We recall the pain of the past, lean into it and commit to making a better future,” the black-hat rabbi said in a Facebook video on the topic.

On Tuesday, a Keshet spokesman said that about 200 people had downloaded the image from their website and there were “hundreds of shares, comments, and posts on social media.”

A total of 331 people who are transgender or gender fluid were killed worldwide in the past year. The murder rate against transgender women of color is particularly shocking: While in America the average life expectancy is nearly 80, for trans women of color, it’s 35.

“The Jewish community, like all communities, has transgender members,” Rabbi Moskowitz said. “We need to make sure all members feel comfortable and safe.”